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'A nightmare. I think I'm dreaming': North Texas Afghan describes horror stories out of Kabul as two local airlines prepare to send help

On Sunday, the Department of Defense activated the first phase of its Civil Reserve Air Fleet.

DALLAS — Aziz Budri's phone has not stopped ringing.

“I’ve been on the phone night and day with people in Kabul, Afghanistan," Budri said. “Everybody is asking me for help. How they can get out of the country. A nightmare. I think I’m dreaming.”

Budri, who serves as the chairman of the board of directors for the Islamic Association of North Texas, said Afghan Americans around North Texas have also been reaching out to him asking for help for their loved ones.

"Three days ago, this Afghan from Arlington called me," Budri said. "He said his brother, who had SIV…a special immigrant visa, was on his way to the airport, the Kabul airport. The Taliban put five bullets in him. This man actually has a young wife and four children.”

Budri said the Arlington man was pleading for help to get his brother's widow and children out of Kabul.

"Another person in Ft. Worth, her husband was coming. He made it to the airport. He had a visa, an American visa," Budri said.

Budri said the woman's husband never made it out.

“I can tell several stories like that," Budri said.

The images of desperation and chaos out of Kabul following the Taliban's invasion of the city have been nonstop.

RELATED: More than 100 Afghan refugees to resettle in Austin through Special Immigrant Visa program

“What I’ve been observing the past few days is very tragic," Budri said. "Very sad. I cannot even believe that it’s happening.”

Budri was born and raised in Kabul. He first came to the United States as a foreign exchange student. He returned for college to study political science and went on to get his master's. The political scientist said he always planned to go back to work in Kabul, but wasn't able to return because the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in the '80s.

“I’m a citizen of both countries. I love both countries. I would die for both countries," Budri said.

Budri said he believes what's happening in Afghanistan is the result of the corrupt Afghan leadership, exploitation from neighboring countries and other world powers for resources and political gain as well as the departure of U.S. troops.

"There's plenty of blame to go around," Budri said.

On Sunday, the Department of Defense activated the first phase of its Civil Reserve Air Fleet. The department tapped six U.S. commercial airlines to provide 18 aircrafts to transport refugees from "safe havens" in the region.

Ft. Worth-based American Airlines will provide three aircrafts.

RELATED: American Airlines among 6 carriers enlisted to help with Afghanistan evacuation

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines was not part of the activation since the Boeing 737 jets don't have the range, but Southwest confirmed Sunday it will start domestic flights to transport refugees once they arrive in the United States.

Although President Biden's given updates on thousands who have been evacuated and continuously promised to get Americans and allies out, Budri said he can't help but to think about the people who will not make it out.

RELATED: 7 killed at Kabul airport; fighters seize areas from Taliban

“I don’t really feel very confident," Budri said. "Plus what he’s saying is very different from reality because I keep talking to people. Many people that have immigrant visas, they come to the airport. They get turned around by the Taliban. One family said, 'I’d rather die here than go to the airport because I know the Taliban are going to kill me anyway.'”

In a statement on its website, American Airlines said its three aircrafts will be ready to go on Monday. Southwest Airlines said it will begin its domestic charter flights on Monday with four flights and plans to do the same on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Both airlines said they don't anticipate this will cause any disruptions to their scheduled operations.


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